CW: You mentioned that you had to challenge some of your own biases throughout this project. I think there was a moment when you looked at the portraits, and you felt like there were certain points of view that were missing. Can you talk about that?
NG: There was a moment when I photographed over six or seven days. I was reflecting on all the work that I had and realized that there was a strong representation of queer womxn and non-binary, gender non-conforming people and some trans men but not enough trans womxn. Making sure that womxn of trans experience are represented in the deck is crucial. Something I still know is missing from the deck is Black, trans womxn, and, even in reaching out to people I know, there is something I need to do differently so that this project can feel more inclusive. That is something that is top of mind for me moving forward with this work and in making the archive.
CW: Related to this idea of inclusivity, you have talked to me, and I think, publicly, about your deck filling in a missing data set. Can you talk more about that and about how you see the role of the archive in this project?
NG: Mimi Onuoha has a piece of writing about missing datasets. We're constantly being surveilled. Data is constantly being collected. I mean, you think about right now, where people are contact tracing to track who you've been in touch with, who you've been close to. Data is everywhere and is everything that we do, and, at the same time, why is it that, with all this data collection, we still don't have deep, rich histories of Black, queer people, of POC, queer people? Where do those things live? And it also comes back to the idea of master narratives. The dominant people in society are the ones who are writing the histories, maintaining the archives, deciding whose stories are important to hold on to. When I heard that language of missing datasets, I realized that a lot of my work is about missing datasets. From Jewels from the Hinterland to Pur·suit, thinking about the way Black people are pictured and represented, and the way queer people are pictured, remembered, represented, and archived and the gap that exists in our histories and how we define them. The archive is important for that purpose which is what I'm working on now. I like to think of Pur·suit – the deck – as a first iteration of a very expansive, living organism, of something that will continue to grow and shift as I do, as I continue to do more research, as I learn more, as I meet more people, as I live and grow. It's so important to archive the moment that we're in and to think about the act of living as something, especially for queer people, that should be documented and remembered and thought about in a nuanced way.